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Can I Still Become a Teacher With a Criminal Record?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

You want to give back to the community and make sure children get a great education. Teachers don't go into the profession for money or glamour, and generally have an interest in doing good. But can doing something bad in your past keep you from ever getting a teaching job?

A criminal record can be an impediment to any profession, and teachers are more carefully screened than most professionals. So here's how a criminal record may affect getting a teaching job.

On the Record

Generally speaking, it is not whether a past criminal offense will prohibit you from getting a teaching job, but which criminal offenses might stand in your way. Generally speaking, teacher hiring is done by local school districts, which adhere to state regulations on teacher certification. Thus the guidelines for which crimes will prevent you from becoming a teacher can vary from state to state, and sometimes from county to county. Usually, minor citations or misdemeanors won't be automatic barriers to employment as a teacher. But serious felonies and certain other crimes can be "showstoppers," as they say:

  • First- or Second-Degree Felonies: These are serious crimes for a reason, and school boards take them seriously;
  • Sexually-Related Offenses: Student safety is the primary concern for schools, so any offense that relates to sexual misconduct (even if it doesn't involve children) will disqualify a teaching candidate;
  • Endangerment Offenses: To that same end, crimes that involve endangering the safety or lives of others will also generally keep you from a teaching job;
  • Drug Offenses: Schools are drug-free zones, so even though some states may be relaxing their marijuana laws, that doesn't mean you can toke up and teach.

Off the Record

But just because you have a criminal record doesn't mean you'll never teach. There are ways to get a job with a criminal record, and there are ways to get your criminal record expunged. To find out if your criminal conviction might keep you from becoming a teacher, consult local school board policy or an experienced criminal attorney.

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